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Traíra

  • Gregory Beyer (b.1973)
  • Sextet
  • 2017

For eight months in 2015-2016, thanks to an introduction from Contramestre Beto DeFreitas of FICA-Chicago, I enriched my work as a Fulbright Scholar in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, through training Capoeira Angola with Mestra Alcione Oliveira and the Association of Capoeira Angola Dobrada (ACAD). In October 2015, ACAD hosted an international conference for members of their global organization. After the conference, one of Alcione’s teachers and co-founder of ACAD, Mestre Rogério Soares Peixoto, remained in Belo Horizonte to work with our group for two weeks. During that time, I spent time with Mestre Rogério to ask questions about his life’s work. I was intrigued to learn that his original connection to capoeira was through its music. In particular, Mestre Rogério mentioned a recording by Mestre Traíra. Unfamiliar, I did some research and soon discovered that Traíra’s image had been staring at me at every ACAD training. A photo of his wiry, chiseled face with its famous pencil thin mustache and wide-brimmed sombrero was framed and hanging on the wall at the ACAD center. This same image adorns the cover of the 1963 LP release, “Mestre Traíra, Capoeira da Bahia,” the first ever commercially released recording of capoeira music in Brazil. The recording came to pass on the heels of a 1962 Cannes Film Festival Award winning film, “Pagador das Promessas” that made a sensation around the globe. Traíra’s recording is one of the most well-known and beloved recordings in the capoeira community, especially amongst the older mestres, many of whom had original copies of the LP. Sensing the importance of this music, I set about transcribing. This composition is a respectful homage to that recording, as its musical material comes from the first (the ladainha “eu ‘tava em casa…” and the corrido “Santa Maria”) and seventh (toques “Angola Dobrada, Santa Maria, and Gegê) tracks.

Additional rhythmic influences come from the particular manner in which Mestre Rogério developed a signature ACAD approach to its namesake toque Angola Dobrada, and the section in 7/8 is a separate homage to the great Mestre Naná Vasconcelos (1944-2016), without whose influence Arcomusical would not exist.

This sextet would not be possible were it not for the captivating musicianship of Mestre Traíra, Mestre Gato Preto (whose bold signature style of berimbau is the driving force of the Traíra recording), and of course, to Naná Vasconcelos

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